Monday, May 30, 2011

Hamlet, and shit like that.

Rain on plain plains of flyover country, which, beset by endless rains and tornado pains, is both less dismissable and justifiably missable by those who fly from edge to edge of the country. And, we've got fungus on our mildew.

Soundset w/ Ben & Shana, and Flann. Parental obligation: to not bounce/dance more than my eleven-year-old kid was at any given time. And, not to shove her out of the way to slap hands with the frontman for the Dirty Crusty Clowns...

More pressingly, a dream was had last night (early this morn, really). Vivid and sustained. Attempt at capturing as follows:
One of those situations (within the dream) where it's kind-of like work, and kind-of not. I'm part of a crew called to a DOA. Then the medics, or the cops, or someone stops me and says, It's your mother. She's dead.
I respond, I know she's dead. She died in 1969.
No, she's upstairs. She slipped and hit her head. It was a bad head wound. ... We need to you identify the body.
We go inside and upstairs--a typical small, southside house; narrow rear stairs--to an entry hall then a small den. Wrapped in a sheet is a body. We unfurl the sheet. In the dream and in my consciousness as viewer of dream, I'm thinking--Oh, I hate the suspense of the reveal when we're on gory calls. Too many movies where it's a pornographic violence money shot (roll the corpse over to see exposed brain or eaten eyes or whathaveyou). I'm thinking, Hmmm, she looks small. And young. And, well, freshly dead.
It's almost as if the ancient Egyptians had handled the post-mortem, the way the body was spun in cheese cloth. At one point, we can see the body, yet the face is still covered. I can see the eyes, and the hair.
Hmmm, I think. She doesn't look very dead. The body has good color. We stare at her. Hmmm, it looks as if she's breathing, or trying to. Are you guys sure she's dead? I ask.
Those? That's just final exhalations. Gas leaving the body. End of electric circuitry.
We look at the body, unconvinced.
I tell the other firefighter to unroll the cloth on her face.
Sure enough, she takes a couple gasps. I tell them to use the BVM and give her some breaths.
Sure enough, she starts breathing.
Then opens her eyes, then sits up. She's very much alive.

There is only mild surprise in the room. Jaded EMS providers have seen it all, even the resurrection, apparently. Then I have a conversation with my long-dead mother. 'But, you're dead,' is how several sentences begin...

She says, yes, she is dead, and yes, she is here, now, alive, briefly. But not really alive. It doesn't look necessarily like her--ie, what my memory of photographs of her conjur as being 'her'--but it also feels like it IS her.
She turns her head to show me the left side, where she struck her head on the table edge. The hair is shaved/lost (like a chemo patient) on that side, and there's a six-inch open tear/gash along the entire side of her skull. She's dead, all right. Even if she wasn't dead long ago, this one looks pretty bad.

So we sit and talk, mostly enjoy each other's company. We hug, there is a corporeal feeling to the hug, in the dream and in my sleep.
She doesn't try to sell me any subscriptions to heaven and I don't beg her to stay.
After a while, she tells me she has to go. We hug again, and cry pleasantly. I can almost smell her hair and feel her/our tears. I start to walk away then stop and trot back to her. (As is the case in dreams, we were both still in the upstairs apartment and also outside, so I was walking along a straight path, slightly upward, then turned and was back in the room, sort of.)

It felt important for me to tell her not to feel badly for dying young. I didn't want her to hold that sadness and regret and guilt any longer (forty-two years seems plenty). That was the most-tangible sentiment in my dream, beyond a suffusion of warmth and loving calm, the need to tell her not to feel bad, that I was all right. She smiled and said she knew all that.
And then I woke up.

Biking to work in the barometric vacuum of humid pre-rain dawn, I mused about the dream. How seldom I think of Judy in this manner, and how very seldom I dream about her. I wondered if it was a Greek myth deal, Orpheus descending to rescue... his mother? (Who at this point would be considered too young for me, even were we not closely related...) Then I considered how much my/our sense of dead/dying have been shaped by cinema more than books: Debra Winger, Terms of Endearment seems the leitmotif for dying moms everywhere. I import the emotions I projected onto Debra's death scenes, which were also a replacement for my own unknown/buried/unformed response to Judy dying when I have 2.5. Watching Terms the first several times, I thought/wondered if that was what my mother felt, saying goodbye to me. If it wasn't, it felt close enough. So I assume that all dying mothers go through their Debra Winger goodbye and we lost children (sons) carry that burning maternal sorrow deep in our hearts.

Then I thought about The Lovely Bones (which could easily be called the Lonely Bones), both the book and the movie, and the notion of the dead hovering over their lost families. (I saw the movie recently and enjoyed it, while understanding how it was a commercial failure.)

I worry more about dying young for my kids than my lost mother. I tell the girls often things I'd hope would/will resonate in their consciousnesses when they're older or if I'm gone too soon. We were talking the other morning and I observed, apropos of something--can't recollect what--that for most people, a sense of self, a sense of being loved and belonging, can provide the best compass to negotiate the seas of life. It's not an antidote to living and losing and learning, but to have that core piece solid is to have a foundation to build on.

Maybe it's the weather, or maybe it's the onset of middle age, where my mortality begins to feel palpable.

So I went to Soundset w/ Flann. Ten hours of outdoor rap festival. Lots of drunken kids (17-30 year olds are kids to me...) but the gloomy skies kept the dehydration to a minimum. It was a good experience, I suppose, for her to see the less-glamorous side of party life. Dope was thick in the air, everywhere, and it irritated her eyes. I mentioned that it's less detrimental than booze, except for the criminal risk and attendant stupidity of those trying to score weed.

She was a good sport and made it through a long day. She got to meet and talk (however briefly) to her heroes in Doomtree. We watched the meet-greet line from the outside afterward, noting the balance of PR and good-sportedness the bands must achieve, since small groups (even local superheroes) still need fan support so the posing and hand-slapping and being grabbed are all part of the equation.

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